Lessons Learned in a New York Minute (or over the extent of a quarter of a year spent in NY)

As individuals, we are constantly growing, changing, and learning lessons about life no matter what situation we’re put in. However, upon my 3 month anniversary of living in the city, I feel as if I have learned much about the city lifestyle which has translated into many life lessons. I’ve also included one of the most important lessons I’ve learned followed with a breakfast that helps get me through even my most chaotic mornings on the run!

After compiling all that I’ve learned and thinking about everything I’ve experienced over the last few months, I’ve realized you don’t know just how much you are falling in love with a place until you imagine moving away from it and all that you’ll leave behind.

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Viewing the City Through the Lens of an Outsider

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Stop and Smell the Roses. An over used yet under utilized phrase.  It’s easy in life to get whisked away in our own chaos of our busy schedules while focusing on getting from point a to point b. In the city, this notion is amplified to the point where it’s easy to shut yourself out from everything going on around you just to make it to the next train or complete the next task or the next destination. If you’re too busy focusing on getting to the next place you don’t realize all that you could be missing around you. Like the fact that you’ve been on the heels of Neil Patrick Harris for the last 10 minutes and it took a guy screaming like a little girl for you to realize one of the top 5 people you would absolutely love to meet in life I standing right in front of you. Stop and smell the roses, or Neil Patrick Harris, whichever makes you look less (or more so) like a crazy person. But at least you’ll be a crazy person embracing life!

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Oh, we will meet again. And I will be that crazy, obsessed fan squeezing in a picture!

If you are in a hurry and want to get through a big crowd of people, simply walk with a purpose and look about 20 feet ahead of you in the direction you want to go. This will avoid that awkward dancing shuffle when someone is trying to get around you. Still, try not to be in a hurry, it’s no beuno.

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Be aware of your surroundings at all times and be conscious of the people around you.

You learn that even in a city of over 8,000,000 people you can feel completely alone at times. But at the same time, you also feel surrounded by people who you can completely relate to and connect with. It’s a strange concept, but smile and say hello to a stranger and you’ll see why.

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New York is the best place to be in love. Not just with a person, though it is wonderful to share with a loved one, but with life in general. If you walk around with the most upbeat and positive attitude, it’s amazing how quickly that rubs off on others and how optimistic the city feels. On the other hand, it’s one of the worst places to be in a terrible mood and hating life as this rubs off just as easy and spreads like a bad virus. With that being said, you never know when someone is going to randomly say something that completely turns around your day. With a higher population of people, the higher the chances are that this will happen!

I can’t lie and say a 3,000 mile relationship is easy. I miss my friends and family every single day and see and do many things that I wish they could be here for. You do find that you get very creative with the ways you communicate and maintain these relationships though. Picture text messages, snail mail, online cribbage, and still finding a way to build upon these relationships have made my connections even stronger and made me all the more appreciative of those who surround me from even thousands of miles away. 

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                       —Emma Straub

It’s okay to live with someone you met on Craigslist. Not everyone you meet on Craigslist is a serial killer and out to take your identity. This was actually probably one of the best things to happen to me upon moving to the city. It’s also okay to meet up with someone you met over Facebook, they just may make your transition to NYC a whole lot easier.

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I’ve been advised to not talk to strangers and avoid all eye contact. Especially on the train. My roommate still looks at me like I’m about to get us beaten up when I talk to people we don’t know on the Subway, but it sure makes for an interesting ride and you never know what you’re going to find out about them!

Yoga has been my way of finding peace and relaxation. My first few days practicing yoga here I realized you find a different strength in meditation as it’s very difficult to focus with all the honking and city noises going on outside. If you can shut it all out for that hour and a half you know you got in a good practice.

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My sanctuary

Avoid US Post Offices, except the Grand Central Station one. All others, prepare to get an earful about how incompetent you are. 

At the same time, remember your manners. No matter how unpleasant someone is or how rushed you are. All I can say is Karma. And I have seen both the pleasant side of Karma and the not so pleasant side. Good Karma = Woman pays for you to get to your train after you incorrectly use your last ride. Bad Karma = 1 Train is down for investigation and you’re already running late…oh and your taxi can’t even get you there on time because there’s a Greek Parade going on in Central Park and roads are shut down. Karma likes to payback through transportation in the city.

Look up parade routes. Knowing this schedule will save you a 45 minute taxi that should have originally been 15 minutes. And could also get you free candy.

I have a new nickname and am no longer spud (though I love my spud nickname because it reminds me of home) and not Miss Idaho or Miss America (since few people know that about me here)…my new nickname is “The Terminator” because they say I bring it when I work out and am like the Terminator. Ironic because this was also one of the first movies my parents took me to as a child thinking I would sleep through it. Little did they know I was taking notes on how to be like “Ahnald” Schwarzenegger. “I’ll be bahck.”

Touch gloves are a lifesaver in the winter.

Amazon, should be renamed “Ama-zing”. I’m quite sure I’m not the first one to discover this oh so clever realization. But seriously, you can order everything from a portable closet to tuna fish to yoga mats to a penny on sale for a penny. But it’s eligible for free super saver shipping!

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                                          On Commuting

I’m pretty proud of myself for becoming familiar with the difference between a 1 train to a 3 train and the A train to the B train. However, I still get in the habit of getting overconfident and hopping on a train without checking to see if it’s headed uptown or downtown. Uptown B takes you in a completely different area than the downtown B. I guess this goes along with slowing down and taking the time to notice what’s going on around you.TrustoCorpSubwayNYC5

Always carry a book with you, you never know when there will be a delay and you’re stuck waiting 20 plus minutes for the next train. Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is a great one to carry with you. Light, easy to read, but warning, could cause those around you to think you’re slightly chaotic as you laugh randomly and frequently. Or try The Red Leather Diary, though this one is easy to become absorbed in and accidently walk onto the wrong train. Oops. At least you have a good book on hand while you backtrack!

Texting while walking is often more dangerous than texting and driving. You wouldn’t stop in the middle of the road to pull out your phone, take a picture, or text? So you shouldn’t do this while walking.

There’s the most pleasant man every morning in Grand Central Station who hands out the Metro Newspaper. I see him at the end of my commute after I’ve had to deal with people pushing and shoving and trains being delayed. I always make a point of going out of my way to walk through his doors just so I can see his smiling face and hear him say “Good morning metro, good moooorning. Have a lov-el-eeee day.” And give one of the best smiles that just beams back at you. So simple, but the one morning he wasn’t there I realized just how much of a difference he made in making my morning commute enjoyable.

Take the time to listen and enjoy the entertainers while in the subway. Some are absolutely amazing. Others, like the elderly man with the out of tune guitar who thinks he is Elvis, are simply entertaining.

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Walking one mile to go to the grocery store is nothing. Depending on how good the freshly made bread pudding is at Whole Foods, walking almost 2 miles may not even be that far.

Black ice, is unforgiving.

Food

There are no such thing as calories in the city. You eat when you’re hungry, which is all the time since you’re constantly on the go and moving around. That being said, I always carry an apple and some sort of protein bar in my purse because you never know when a train is going to be delayed and you are going to be starvin’ Marvin and trying to resist the temptation of grabbing salted caramel frozen yogurt.

That brings me to my next lesson. I learned I’m not only obsessed with salted caramel chocolates. But salted caramel frozen yogurt is to d-i-e for. Thank goodness calories don’t exist here, right??l

If Luke wasn’t the love of my life, Eli would be a close second due to Eli Bakery’s best scones in the city. Don’t second guess how this is life impacting. Scones are loaded with fat, so if you’re going to make a splurge decision, might a well make it a good one. Why would you waste it on a bad one? That goes for a lot in life. If you’re not enjoying something, then why waste your time?

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Never, ever shop at Trader Joes on the 1st of the month. Never. Even if your fridge is bare and you have hunger pains in your stomach. If you do make this mistake, you will know immediately when you see the line out the door which should be a sign to you to take the night off and go out to eat. I highly recommend the Hummus Kitchen. Oye. Yum.

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Looks like fun, right? I enjoy the people at Trader Joe’s though. The clientele seems to have a very unique and friendly persona about them.

If a sign says “Taste of China Town, $1” and leads you down a weird alley. Don’t do it. First off, it’s a weird alley. Second, it won’t be the kind of taste of China you want to actually taste. Go get a dollar’s worth of frozen salted caramel yogurt instead.

You can make cookies in a microwave. Due to a non-functional oven, I’ve learned many a shortcuts and tricks in the kitchen.

One of the other things I’ve learned…..

my obsession with protein pancakes has helped me make it through many long, packed days in the city. The perfect food to get enough carbs in me to get the brain juices flowing, energy to keep running, loaded with protein….and they are simply delicious! Today’s concoction is a chocolate coconut protein pancake. Sounds as if it’s too good to be true right?

 

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Chocolate Coconut Protein Pancakes
2 egg whites
1/2 of a banana (the more ripe, the better as they are a little sweeter then)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
2 tbsp chocolate protein powder
1 tbsp oats
1 tbsp shredded coconut flakes
1 tbsp dried cranberries

If you want to get real crazy you can add in some dark chocolate chips or even some coconut. Mix the dry ingredients first and then the wet ingredients and combine together to ensure a nice consistency. Top with sliced almonds and agave nectar for a little extra dazzle.
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The biggest lesson I’ve learned was recently through a presentation from Kathryn Budig. She discussed her transition moving to LA and living there and the moving to Florida. I found I could relate to many of her stories and something she said has resonated with me. “There’s something beautiful about the unknown, because it means there is endless potential full of infinite possibilities.”

My internship at Women’s Health is going to be wrapping up in the next month and I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunities that I have with Rodale so far. But it has also left me feeling anxious, confused, and overwhelmed with the possibilities of what can happen next. I’m focusing on enjoying where I’m at right now, but realizing that not knowing what exactly I’m going to be doing in a month is terrifyingly liberating. Which may sound unpleasant, but at the same time leaves the imagination to eagerly wonder what awaits when the next door opens. 3eaf39b9e2ee462023e77f7eb3369568

What is a lesson you’ve learned in the last 3 months or during an experience you had when you went outside your comfort zone?

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